~ Le ViÍt Nam, aujourd'hui. ~
The Vietnam News

[Year 1997]
[Year 1998]
[Year 1999]
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[Year 2001]

Vietnam poverty reduction success fragile-W.Bank

HANOI - Vietnam's impressive gains in cutting poverty in recent years will be at risk unless the government implements urgent economic reforms, the World Bank said in a major report. An executive summary of the report, the bank's most comprehensive on Vietnam poverty in five years, said Hanoi had also yet to fully acknowledge how economic reforms would help keep reducing poverty.

Between 30 to 45 percent of Vietnam's 79 million people were living below the poverty line, said the summary, which was obtained by Reuters late on Tuesday. A full 45 percent of all rural dwellers lived in poverty, it added. The summary, which covered the 1993-1998 period, gave no details on how poverty was measured.
It said reduced poverty from gains in agriculture production and productivity had largely been exhausted, which meant the best way to raise future incomes was through off-farm employment in rural areas and labour-intensive manufacturing.

But that required urgent economic reforms to create jobs and bring foreign capital inflows into the communist-ruled country, where annual per capita incomes are just above $300.
``There is currently too little recognition as to why the reform measures are essential for restoring growth and reducing poverty,'' said the summary. ``The dramatic gains in poverty reduction in Vietnam during the last five years remain quite fragile.''


The report will be the key focal point for Vietnam's foreign donors when they meet in Hanoi from December 14-15 for the annual World Bank Consultative Group meeting. At that gathering, donors will make fresh aid pledges and also discuss Vietnam's sluggish economic reforms.

Hanoi has promised to unveil measures to boost the economy at the next session of the National Assembly, which opens on Thursday, but investors are not expecting substantial reforms. The government has forecast economic growth this year at 4.7-5.0 percent from an estimated 5.8 percent in 1998.
Commending Vietnam for its efforts to raise incomes during the 1993-1998 period, the summary said that in the mid-1980s seven out of every 10 Vietnamese lived in poverty. At that time deadening central planning policies had driven the economy into the ground. In 1986, the government adopted market-oriented economic reforms.

But because many people were close to the poverty line in 1993, modest improvements had been sufficient to pull them over. It followed that a relatively small deterioration could push them below again, the summary said. Specific problems cited by the summary were increasing landlessness among the poor, especially in the Mekong Delta.

Reuters - November 16, 1999.